animals, bird, photography, seasons, summer, wildlife, world

Throwback Thursday: remembering last summer

European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) / Bienenfresser

 

These beautiful birds are coming quite late to middle Europe for growing their offspring. Early June is still mating time and by the end of August, they are already away to the south. They depend completely on the availability of big flying insects like bees, bumblebees, wasps, hornets, or dragonflies. Although they are native to Europe, they are quite new in more northern parts of i.e. Germany. They benefit from the warmer summers. Following the river the Danube in western direction from Romania to the Kaiserstuhl area in the south-western state of Baden-Würtemberg and then along the river Rhine to the north. For a couple of years, a tiny population is known west of Düsseldorf and another one near Porta-Westfalica next to the river Weser. A third well-known bigger population resides in the middle German state of Saxony-Anhalt.

Besides big flying insects, they need open steep slopes consisting of clay to dig their brood cavity. Such a brood cavity is usually 1-1,50 meters long and can be up to 2 meters long with a diameter of 5-7 cm. Suitable slopes can be found in some parts of some rivers or in man-made gravel pits. Surprisingly, the machines seem not to disturb the birds as long as no human shows up and enough insects are around. In addition, the slope must be big enough to offer space for more than one couple, because they live in (huge) colonies.

In Germany, bee-eaters are a protected species as it is red-listed as an endangered species.

Take care

 

 

photography, summer, travel

Throwback Thursday: I’m back …

… from Namibia!

While writing this, I’m sitting in Frankfurt waiting for my connection flight on my trip back home from Windhoek, the capital of Namibia in southern Africa.

During the last two weeks, I was exploring the south of Namibia. We were traveling the deserts, steppes, and savannas of Namibia between Windhoek in the North and Lüderitz in the South. Namibia changed my image of an African country. I was faced with a modern and clean country. Covid 19 incidence of 1.x (raising up to 2.3 by the end of our trip). I was very surprised, how serious the Namibian people are handling Covid: entering shops, restaurants, and other buildings only when wearing a nose-and-mouth-covering mask and in the entrance area of each shop a hand sanitizer was set up. In my opinion, this is a reason for the extremely low incidence rate in comparison with other countries

It was a very relaxed stay (roundtrip of about 3,000 km) to see the country and many animals besides the roads. Btw. roads: in the past, I experienced the Icelandic gravel roads and bad roads in Scotland. But in Namibia, the road quality is even worse. Most of the roads are not paved and even the paved ones are not as smooth as we know it from middle Europe. Instead, the gravel roads have a lot of bumps and potholes, and they are very dusty (dust devils can be spotted quite easily).

Despite these ‘problems’, it was a very nice trip, well organized, and equipped with a skilled local driver. This was his first job after nearly 2 years of sitting home unemployed because of the pandemic. So, I was experiencing again an empty country. But I’m feeling very sorry for the people depending on tourism. Without tourists, they can’t earn money to make their living.

My aim for this trip wasn’t to go on a safari. Instead, I wanted to see the deserts of Namibia: like Kalahari, Stone-Namib, Sand-Namib. End of November, the rain season is about to start. So, the country was already dried out. To stress this fact, we were even greeted by burning houses on the ground of the lodge of our first stay. In less than an hour, three 2-floor houses burned down completely. The trigger was a spark issued by a workman’s tool.

You might know, the land, now being Namibia, once was a German colony more than 100 years ago and then taken over by the British Empire followed by South Africa. In 1994 Namibia became independent from South Africa after the end of the South African apartheid regime. But there are still very strong connections to South Africa. Nevertheless, different than South Africa, they made a couple of good decisions: no condemnation of white farmers, picking English as the only official language instead of choosing one of the 11 local languages (plus Afrikaans and German). So, all people speak at least two languages: their mother tongue and English (sometimes in total 3 or 4).

I was meeting black people speaking German perfectly, what a surprise. I was happy to see, that the people connect Germany positively and they are proud of their country.

To name my favorites of the trip, I have to start with the animals we saw at the Lodges, in the National Parks, and besides the roads. I don’t want to bore you with a list. Next, I would name the dunes of Sossusvlei / Deathvlei where the dunes of very fine red sand can easily grow higher than 300 meters (about 1,000 feet), the Quiver tree forest (endemic plants relative to the Alow Vera), and the formerly forbidden zone near Lüderitz where the Diamonds were found with the ghost town Kolmanskop (Kolmanskuppe), a former German mining company town.

I’m very glad to have seen Oryx a couple of times, the signature animal of Namibia. They are well adapted to live and survive in these dry and scraggy landscapes. And they are beautiful. Here I have one for you, I met in Sossusvlei. I guess, this image itself is a symbol for Namibia: a lot of space to roam (only 2.3 million people living in a country of nearly 3 times the size of Germany, where we have more than 83 million people ), deserts are dominating the land, but there is still life (the green). We were in Deadvlei, a part of Sossusvlei in the early morning because the shuttle service stops at 3 p.m. because of the heat. Two weeks earlier, a Frenchman died here because of the heat. they found him the next morning terribly treated by the sun and looking like being a double of Freddy Krüger.

P.S. While you’re reading this, I’m already back at home for 3,5 days and I have to admit, I’m still freezing a lot. More than a 30°C difference in temperature between Namibia and Germany. I want the warmth back or alternatively back into the warmth. But, I guess, I have to dream about it ☹️. Instead, I’m in quarantine for 2 full weeks because I came back from a virus variant area. What the f**k. How can Namibia be a virus variant area, when there is nearly no-one infected. But I can’t change this, so I have to love and reschedule a few appointments.

Stay tuned and take care!

 

photography, summer, travel

Throwback Thursday: high-speed beauty!

white-tailed tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus) / Weißschwanz-Tropikvogel

 

I loved watching these birds flying fast above the coasts of Seychelles. I’ve had the impression, they really love and enjoy flying. It’s already 11 years 😲

Take care!

 

photography, summer, travel

Throwback Thursday: meeting the cranes

Full-frame, 400mm, f7.1, 1/30, ISO 3200

What a morning! Thousands of common cranes are standing in the shallow water about 200 meters away from me. I arrived at night and waited for sunrise. I was soooo lucky for the beautiful light. First, we got a soft pinkish sky Turing to gold later. After sunrise, peu-a-peu the big birds started into their daily routine and flying over me heading to the fields to collect seeds for breakfast and storing energy for the long and exhausting flight to the south. And how much noise!

It’s already 4 years 😲

Take care!

 

photography, summer, travel

Throwback Thursday: Photokina time (not)

This is the time of the year when each second year Photokina was held. Last year I wrote about my expectation, Photokina might be dead. We will see if I was right.

I visited this fair a couple of times. I was the world-leading fair related to photography. Last year the fair was canceled because of the pandemic. This year would be supposed to be a non-Photokina year when following the original schedule. Besides, the organizers modified the schedule. Instead of a week each second year in September, the fair now is supposed to last only 3 days each May since 2019.

Take care!

 

photography, summer, travel

Throwback Thursday: it’s too early for fall!

It’s early September. So, in 2 weeks fall starts according to the calendar. In recent years, fall usually started not before October, in some years not before November. But, this year is different. Fall already started in early June. Nearly no fruits on the trees and bushes here in my region. The apple tree in our garden has severe problems: the apples and the lower leaves rot and mold on the tree. We got exactly 10 apples while 5 of them are to be thrown directly on the compost heap. According to a professional gardener, this is a result of the low temperatures and the high amount of humidity because of the frequent and heavy rains. The image below is taken a couple of years ago.

Yesterday, I read the EU published a report stating 2021 was the hottest summer ever (since the beginning of the weather recording). I can’t confirm and according to co-workers from northern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, the summer over there also didn’t deserve that name. 😦 So, the summer in other parts of Europe (i.e. Poland and Finland according to other co-workers, Italy, Greece, and so on) must have been even hotter to balance the low temperatures in West-Europe.

 

Btw. the weather forecast proposed the next rain front starting from today and last at least until mid of next week. Fortunately, the last 5 days were kind of summerly.

Take care!

 

landscape, photography, summer, travel

Throwback Thursday: Eos is rising

The Greeks called her Eos, the Romans called her Aurora. She was supposed to run ahead of the four stallions pulling the carriage of her brother Helios (Sol for the Romans) and announce him on his track over the sky. Their other sister, Selene (Luna for the Romans), is following the carriage as the last light of the day.

In this image, we have, besides the first light of the day, the first-morning fog, and the last stars in the sky. It’s taken literally between night and day.

Take care!

 

landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, seasons, summer, travel, world

Monochrome Monday 7-35

I wish you a belated Happy New Year with this image taken in December 2009 a few kilometers away from my home. Since then, we didn’t have had that much snow again. Overnight about half a meter of snow felt and made us a white Christmas. But, the untouched snow in this image is in my opinion also a great symbol for a new year. Some of your plans might already throw a shadow and pop out of the plain, but most of what the future will bring is still covered by uncertainness.

So, start with me in a new year and see, what the future will bring.

Take care!

 

nature, photo-of-the-day, summer, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: workshop results

Two weeks ago I was holding a workshop again. Not a big one. Because of the pandemic regulations, only a very, very small group was with me.

We were reaching our destination before sunrise at about 6 a.m. (oohhh, that’s before breakfast 😳). Amazing how many people were already there or were arriving shortly after us. About 30-40 photographers, mostly equipped with a tripod and a bunch of filters (noooo, no Instagram-filters 😇, glass filters) and about 20 joggers. It wasn’t my first visit here at that early time and in the past, I never met more than two or three people (mostly walkers and not photographers). When I was leaving I met some people walking their dogs or so. So, I was quite surprised how crowded the location was.

But, I won’t complain. As expected, we were gifted by a lot of morning fog, a nice sunrise but unfortunately no clouds.

About 2 hours later, all the beauty was gone. But, our memory cards were filled instead to keep the beauty.

Take care!

 

nature, photo-of-the-day, summer, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: It’s harvest time

Saturday before last, we got a call by a good friend telling us, the grapes in their garden were ripe and have to be harvested before they were eaten completely by the birds. So, on Sunday we headed north-west to visit them with a bunch of buckets in the rear trunk. Just like last year.

In the evening we came back with 4 * 10 liter + 1 * 15-liter buckets full of ripe, blue grapes. That made a total of about 26 kg. During the next 3 days, the juice was extracted from the grapes. A total of about 15 liters of juice came out of the fruits. The raw juice was further processed to some glasses of jam (~20), a few bottles of very tasty juice (8), some liqueur, and a Schiacciata all’uva, an Italian grape bread, were the result.

 

Take care!

 

animals, bird, nature, photo-of-the-day, summer, travel, wildlife, world

Throwback Thursday: arctic terns

You know, in June I was in Iceland and came back with a bunch of photos. So, I’m selecting and editing many images at the moment. Yesterday, I stumbled over the above image of an arctic tern at the parking ground of Dyrhólaey near Vík í Mýrdal in southern Iceland. I have tons of images of these elegant birds. But, they are also very brave and quick-tempered. Their nests are simply on the ground, hidden between grass and they breed in big colonies. To defend their nests and their breed they start-up very easily to chase away the intruder.

At first, they fly to the intruder and stand above him in the sky crying and trying to expel him that way. If this behaviour does not help they start to attack the head of the intruder. While these attacks in the beginning are only mock attacks, they come nearer and nearer with each attack. In the end they will hit the head with their beaks.

I already knew this from my first trip in 2014 and how to behave correctly. But, when arriving in a not closed parking ground and being greeted by angry birds, you can’t evade. But, moving away calm but swiftly, they let you go unharmed because that was their goal. It seems to me from my , the alert distance is about 50 meters from the nest.

While on the roads, every now and then I spotted this traffic sign beside the road: “Attention, angry bird are going to attack you. Be prepared.” And they do! Definitely, they do. They even attack passing cars. In 2014 a couple of bird hit the car roof with the beaks.

 

As I said, the arctic terns are building their nest on the ground. So, it’s not easy to recognize a nesting ground. But, when your distance is too short, they will notify you. I even spotted a group of young adults (I guess, they were Icelanders), getting attacked while passing a breeding ground. But, instead of simply moving away one of them started to fight back. He flew his pullover to drive out the birds, but with no effect. They even got angrier and followed them further attacking the head of the young man with the pullover. The arctic terns are able to descide between people. Although, the group wasn’t far away from me, I was save. No bird came up to me, despite they had to pass me.

 

Take care!

 

animals, mammal, nature, photo-of-the-day, summer, wildlife

Throwback Thursday: river Rhein

In August 2018 I was in Switzerland for a couple of days. It was the first heat-year. Temperature raised up to 39,8°C. for months there was no rain. You know, the source of the European stream, river Rhein, is located in Switzerland. Here, we have a view of the young steam. It’s nearly completely dried-up. Only a runlet remained.

Take care!